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Help Restore Tator Knob Fire Tower

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  • Help Restore Tator Knob Fire Tower

    Help restore fire tower

    By Vanessa Overholser - Staff Writer


    The Tater Knob Fire Tower was destroyed by arson sometime on Dec. 3, 2008. Now local folks are trying to repair it and are hosting a fundraising concert at the Morehead Conference Center Oct. 10.

    “The concert is being held as a benefit to rehab the Tater Knob Fire Tower,” said Kentucky Forestry Fire Lookout Chapter Director Danny Blevins. The concert will be from 2 to 10 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and all proceeds go to the tower fund.

    Blevins said there will be something for everyone to enjoy at the concert.

    “Performers are Unreserved, Delayed Reaction, Trista Mabry, Wild Boogers, and the Whiskey River Band,” he said. “There will be an art show with the Tater Knob Fire Tower artifacts on display. Local volunteer fire departments will have fire trucks and equipment outside for all to see and the Department of Forestry will have a truck available also.”

    Tater Knob was used as a scenic view of Rowan, Bath and Menifee counties.

    A $2,500 reward was offered by the Department of Forestry for anyone having information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the fire. The person who set the fire was not found.

    “There is no set committee doing this,” Blevins said. “This is a grassroots effort. It is a band of firefighters, outdoor enthusiasts, forestry officials, community leaders from Rowan, Bath and Menifee counties who are putting forth the effort to fix the tower.”

    An exact dollar amount of the damages was not confirmed after the fire was investigated. However, local Tater Knob Tower advocates hope to raise anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to put back into the tower.

    Blevins said he is grateful to have Landon Dickerson, Morehead Tourism, and the Morehead Conference Center officials help with the fundraising efforts.

    “Landon has been a real force in putting this together,” he said. “He has strong emotional ties to the tower.

    “None of this would be possible without the full support from Morehead Tourism and the Morehead Conference Center.”

    Having the Tater Knob Fire Tower and other scenic lookouts be repaired is important to Blevins.

    “I’d like to see the Tater Knob Fire Tower and other lookouts be restored,” Blevins said.

    Donations for the fire tower can be mailed to Salt Lick Deposit Bank in care of the Tater Knob Fundraiser account, PO Box 157, Salt Lick, KY 40371.

    For more information about the fundraiser and donations contact the bank at 606-683-2091.

    The Tater Knob Fire Tower is located near Zilpo Campground near Cave Run Lake.

    Fire finder was last remaining tower in DBNF

    The Tater Knob Fire Tower was the last remaining fire tower on the Daniel Boone National Forest. It was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a lookout for detecting forest fires. The cab of this 35-ft. tower was home to the lookout operators who staffed it during the fire season. In a space less than 200 square feet, the cab had just enough room for a wood stove, two cots, a cabinet, storage box, small table, and a stool. The all-important alidade, or fire finder, stood in the middle of the room.

    The original wooden cab was reconstructed in 1959, reduced to nearly half its original size. The lookouts no longer lived in the tower. Instead, they climbed to the peak of Tater Knob every day of the fire season to watch for smoke. By the mid-1970s, aircraft became the new method for spotting forest fires. The fire towers, including Tater Knob, were abandoned from use.

    In 1993, the Tater Knob Fire Tower was restored and opened to the public as a historic site and tourist attraction. The tower is currently listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.

    Forest Service law enforcement officials suspect spray paint, used by vandals for graffiti, may have been used as an accelerant to start the arson fire that burned the Tater Knob Fire Tower. Anyone with information concerning this fire is encouraged to contact the U.S. Forest Service at 859-745-3100 or 784-6428.

    Why do we care about a firetower that's no longer used for firefighting?
    Lookout towers like Tater Knob are a symbol of the long, proud history of fighting forest fires. These towers remind the public of the hard work and sacrifices that firefighters made, and continue to make, in protecting forests and nearby homes, farms, and towns from wildfires.
    Last edited by coldfront; 10-04-2009, 11:49 AM.
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